Everyone feels anxious now and then. You might feel anxious about underperforming at work, before making a life-changing decision, or about what the future might hold. During the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety is a keyword that captures a common state of being for everyone.
Occasional, situation-specific anxiety is okay because feelings of anxiousness are how the nervous system responds to external stress. A true anxiety disorder is different: it is considered a mental illness by medical professionals. Let’s learn about the different types of anxiety disorders so that you know how to self-care and intervene at their earliest signs.
When Is Your Anxiety a Mental Illness?
Anxiety disorders refer to mental conditions that involve constant and overwhelming anxiety, stress, and fear. It does not feel like your everyday event-triggered anxiety, which disappears after the events pass. Rather, this kind of anxiety is ever-present and debilitating. It can cause you to lose the ability to function normally in life. If you feel so anxious that you cannot go to work, school, or perform other daily tasks, you may have clinical anxiety.
The main symptom of anxiety disorders is excessive fear or worry but it can also cause shortness of breath, insomnia, and lack of focus. Your mood becomes panicky, and you may feel a looming sense of danger. You cannot find a moment of calmness or sit still. You find yourself fidgeting and fearing, sometimes with cold sweat and even dizziness. Some fearful themes circulate in your mind, and you find yourself unable to stop obsessing over them.
What Are Different Kinds of Anxiety Disorders?
There are seven different kinds of anxiety disorders.
- Generalized anxiety disorder, refers to a kind of excessive worry while there is little reason to do so.
- Panic anxiety disorder involves a sudden and intense fear which is also known as a “panic attack.” One can develop heavy sweating, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and even chest pain.
- Social anxiety disorder or social phobia refers to a heightened self-consciousness in social situations which may be overwhelming or even debilitating for someone to act normally. One can become obsessively worried about how others perceive them. The fear of becoming a target of ridicule can be paralyzing.
- Another category of anxiety involves certain phobias, feelings of intense fear or aversion towards certain objects or situations. Common phobias include fear of heights, being on stage, or flying.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder is a kind of anxiety that occurs when one has experienced significant trauma, causing them to feel anxious in similar situations to those that caused the trauma or being reminded of the trauma.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder is another type of anxiety. This disorder involves one becoming obsessed with a thought, leading to the compulsive need to complete a task or else risk harm to themselves or someone else.
- Lastly, separation anxiety involves worry over being separated from loved ones either because of being apart from them or fear that they will pass away suddenly and unexpectedly.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
Like other mental health concerns, the causes of anxiety disorders are complicated. Some of these conditions run in families through genetics. People with a genetic predisposition for anxiety disorders may demonstrate a personality of unease. Researchers also linked anxiety disorders to changes in brain chemistry because of faulty circuits that fail to control fear and emotions.
Using certain drugs may also increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders. Certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular, lung, and thyroid diseases can cause symptoms similar to anxiety disorders or make such symptoms worse. There are also environmental stress factors, including traumatic events and experiences, the death of a loved one, and other situations.
What Is the Relationship Between Addiction and Anxiety Disorders?
Comorbidity is very common with substance addiction and anxiety disorders. Some drugs can cause substance-induced anxiety disorders. These include alcohol, phencyclidine, hallucinogens, inhalants, and stimulants. People may experience anxiety when trying to quit drugs. Anxiety is a major withdrawal symptom. Conversely, people with anxiety disorders may try to self-medicate their symptoms using drugs and alcohol. In this way, one can influence and worsen the other and create a cycle.
Certain drugs may decrease anxiety at first but, with heavier dosing, can increase anxiety. Marijuana is one example. Studies have shown that women who seldom use marijuana and people with pre-existing anxiety disorders tend to develop marijuana-induced anxiety.
How Do You Treat Them Simultaneously?
Any mental health condition co-occurring with substance abuse needs to be treated one alongside the other. Research shows that people who only complete detox treatment and do not receive treatment for anxiety are more likely to see deterioration in their health.
In terms of specific treatment, anxiety disorders can be treated with antidepressant medication, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, selective norepinephrine inhibitors, and benzodiazepines (Xanax and Valium). However, some drugs are less effective or more harmful than helpful for people with addiction. Therapy treatments can also be considered, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, relaxation, and breathing technique training.
Substance addiction and anxiety disorders can become co-occurring conditions. If you or a loved one is struggling with these two conditions, seek professional help as early as possible. When you get help sooner than later, you or your loved one has a better chance of healing from both conditions. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we have a team of licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists who can educate and counsel you. Many of our staff have been in recovery themselves, so we understand the challenges on this long journey, especially when it comes to substance addiction and its co-occurring mental health issues. We can help you design custom treatment plans for your needs. Our residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, and 12-step programs. You can make use of both our inpatient and outpatient programs. We commit to first-class service, and meeting your needs is our top priority. Call us at (866) 906-3203.